BGC Okanagan commits to supporting Indigenous children, youth, and families in the communities we serve.
We call for an end to the systemic inequities faced by Indigenous communities. We stand for Truth and Reconciliation and we commit to creating equitable spaces for Indigenous staff, partners, and community members. BGC Okanagan is doing this through several actions. Four years ago the BGC Okanagan Truth and Reconciliation committee was created with the goal to help our staff bridge the gap between our organization and Indigenous neighbours and partners, as well as to enhance education and knowledge for our staff about Truth and Reconciliation.
We acknowledge that Indigenous peoples have suffered under colonial and postcolonial policies. We believe that to work respectfully with Indigenous nations, our staff needs to be aware of the impact that intergenerational trauma continues to have on Indigenous children, youth, and families. We need to be open and vulnerable so that we can learn and understand our shared history in a way that moves us towards a stronger and healthier future, with relationships rooted in mutual understanding and respect.
BGC Okanagan acknowledges that our programs exist on the traditional unceded territory of the Syilx people and Splats’in First Nation (part of Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation). It is important that our staff recognize and acknowledge whose territory we operate within and/or alongside. Our programs serve communities that include five of the eight bands that make up Okanagan Nation Alliance:
- Okanagan Indian Band; whose six reserves spread from Armstrong to Winfield and on the Westside of Okanagan Lake;
- Westbank First Nation; whose five reserves are located alongside Okanagan Lake and in close proximity to the City of West Kelowna, and within the City of Kelowna;
- Penticton Indian Band; whose three reserves are bordered to the north by the city of Summerland, to the west by the City of Penticton and to the South and West by Highway 97;
- Osoyoos Indian Band; located between the towns of Osoyoos and Oliver in the South Okanagan;
- Lower Similkameen Indian Band; whose 11 reserves stretch 90 kilometres in the South Okanagan Similkameen Valley
Some of our programs also serve communities within the Splats’in First Nation (Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation)
- This nation has reserve land in Spallumcheen, Enderby, and Falkland.
We acknowledge that the reserve lands listed above are defined by the Government of Canada and each band’s traditional territory and traditional rights to gathering, fishing, hunting, and practicing their culture extends beyond their reserve borders. When we acknowledge traditional territory we acknowledge that all land we work on is traditional ancestral territory.
We know that by supporting Indigenous children, youth, and families, and partnering with Indigenous leaders in our communities, we strengthen society overall. We have learned that it is crucial to provide transformative spaces and meaningful opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous young leaders to forge new pathways together.
We are guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which establishes the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples and protects them from discriminatory policies and practices. We are also guided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s final report, and in response to their Calls to Action, we will:
Build knowledge and awareness of Truth and Reconciliation at BGC Okanagan Clubs by offering learning/unlearning and capacity-building opportunities for Club leadership, staff, volunteers, and members (children, youth, and families) that will increase understanding of Indigenous peoples, cultures, languages, communities, histories, the impact of colonial actions, intergenerational trauma, and the role that we can play in walking the path of Reconciliation (TRC Calls to Action 92iii and 62i).
Seek meaningful and sustained relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations, throughout the Okanagan Valley; participating nationally in BGC Canada Truth and Reconciliation work, based on equality, good faith, and mutual respect, to work collaboratively towards equitable, accessible, and culturally relevant and responsive services for Indigenous children, youth, and families (TRC Call to Action 66).
BGC Okanagan’s Truth and Reconciliation commitment statement is adapted from BGC Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation statement which was developed with Club leadership from across the country, in consultation with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and youth leaders, and has been approved by our national Board of Directors. This statement will continue to move us towards our vision that all children and youth discover and achieve their dreams and grow up to be healthy, successful, and active participants in society.
The Calls to Action from the TRC cited above include:
92iii Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
62i Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
66 We call upon the federal government to establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on Reconciliation, and establish a national network to share information and best practices.